Billy Smith (1934-2020)

Jul 29, 2020

Billy R. Smith, 85, of Dyersburg, Tennessee, died on June 24, 2020, at West Tennessee Healthcare-Dyersburg Hospital.

Born October 3, 1934, in Gadsden, Alabama, he was the son of the late William M. Smith and the late Ethel Gage Smith.

Smith studied business at the University of Alabama and also at Columbia University in New York.

He began his newspaper career at an early age, working as a carrier for the Gadsden (Alabama) Times, where he was later promoted to circulation manager. After leaving Gadsden, he worked for the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser as the circulation manager. He then assumed the position as circulation manager for the Bristol (Tennessee) Herald Courier. In 1972, he moved to Dyersburg, Tennessee, where he served as publisher for the State Gazette, leaving in 1980 to become the publisher for the Southwest Times in Pulaski, Virginia.

Smith then moved back to Dyersburg in 1995 and was the publisher for the State Gazette before retiring in 1999.

He was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, former member of the Pulaski (Virginia) Community Hospital Board and member of the Dyersburg Church of God.

If anyone knew Mr. Billy, you knew that he was an avid University of Alabama football fan.

Funeral services for Smith were held June 27, 2020, in the Chapel of Johnson-Williams Funeral Home. Pastor Joseph Ballinger officiated the service.

He leaves to cherish his memory one daughter, Debbie Funderburk (Terry) of Dyersburg; three sons, Randy Smith of Dyersburg, Ron Smith (Barbara) of Southaven, Mississippi, and Rick Smith of Dyersburg; two sisters, Jane Daughdrill (King) and Shirley Robertson both of Gadsden; one brother, Rev. Jack Smith (Carol) of Gadsden; four grandchildren, Jason Funderburk (Amanda) of Newbern, Tennessee, Brooke Weaver (Scott) of Hoover, Alabama, Lori Knight (Brandon) of Memphis, Tennessee, and Kathrine Owens (Josh) of Memphis, and eight great-grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Shirley Jean Cole Smith; one brother, LeeRoy Smith; one sister, Gloria Countryman; and a grand-daughter, Kaitlyn Smith.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Avenue, 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601-7633 or online at

Online condolences may be made to the family online at